The NFL deadline for giving players franchise tags came and went on March 3. Those who got tagged will have one guaranteed year left with their team to prove themselves, before they receive a longer commitment or are allowed to go into free agency. Three players already received those tags before March 3, with Brian Orakpo among the three who received a tag right before the deadline.
After missing much of the 2012 season, Orakpo returned to the Washington Redskins in 2013 and was one of their few bright spots. However, with his past injuries, the Redskins couldn't commit to Orakpo for the long term quite yet. As such, his sixth season will be a make or break one to determine his future in Washington.
While Orakpo at least got a one-year tag with the Redskins, the likes of the Buffalo Bills' Jairus Byrd, the Baltimore Ravens' Eugene Monroe and the Indianapolis Colts' Vontae Davis were not retained. They will become free agents when the NFL's free agency period begins on March 11.
On the other hand, the Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers were able to outright resign cornerback Brent Grimes and wide receiver Anquan Bolden on March 3, settling their fates then and there. Given the turmoil around the Dolphins and 49ers these days for their off field issues, maintaining key contributors on the field was a necessary change of pace.
Teams did have another option besides franchise tags, longer deals or letting players go into free agency. The seldom used 'transition tag' was used twice before the deadline, which allows players to test the market but gives their current teams five days to match any offer. The Cleveland Browns used it on center Alex Mack, while the Pittsburgh Steelers gave it to linebacker Jason Worilds.
These moves rounded out the number of players who received tags of any kind this offseason to six -- although one is still in a dispute over classifying his tag. The accompanying slideshow adds Orakpo, Worilds and Mack to those who got tagged in recent days.